Why does confrontation-style politics not work with the current regime in Myanmar?

(I submitted the following paper as a term paper at the graduate class of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies in 2009 as part of prerequisites of a MA degree in Peace Building and Conflict Prevention Study. I graduated on 26 March 2010.)


“Also, he advised me to concentrate on saying things that will bring about reconciliation. And that what I should say should be truthful, beneficial, and sweet to the ears of the listener”(Alan Clement. 1993. P. 9).


Myanmarese oppositions led by Aung San Suu Kyi (Suu, hereafter), a Nobel Laureate and the world’s single most popular woman in present day politics, failed to bring the regime change during last two decades any better, but worse. The outcome of her confrontational style has revealed not only unproductive, but also negatively affected the citizens’ living standard. Every physical and verbal confrontation she staged ended up by house arrests, deaths, and confinement to her, the colleagues, and the followers. Both the regime and the opposition have responsibility for what had had happened and affected the citizens and the country. This study will explore the other alternatives to facilitate the national reconciliation.

In this paper, I have tried to find out how much “the processes and mechanisms” of Charles Tilly and Sidney Tarrow’s are accountable. I found those events happened and shaped Myanmar politics follow their formulation.

This short paper is also not to polish the image of the regime whose image, in fact, is full of atrocities, lies, and bullies to its subjects. However, both sides are responsible for what have had happened in the past.

Myanmarese opposition as a whole is getting weaker while military regime is getting stronger day by day even amidst the Western sanctions. Since they were in power, the country founds several trillion cubic meters of natural gas and more mines of precious stones like jades and rubies. Apart from these, the regime has secured the friendships and staunch support of People Republic of China and Federation of Russian States to ward off American led Western actions at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The regime has kept good neighborhood with India, Bangladesh, Thailand and most ASEAN nations. With such neighbors and other many apolitical nations, the regime could stand against the Western sanctions.

The oppositions’ main allies are Western nations. Their support is mostly moral and lip services. Since Suu and her party, the National League for Democracy (hereafter NLD) and her lobbyists vigorously undermined the regime’s promotion of foreign direct investments (FDI) and other programs. The regime’s reaction is more than equal. With or without Suu at the helm, NLD could not make significant impact on the military, but rather drift away from reconciliation. Suu and NLD has initially underestimated the regime and overestimated their own strength. However, they still don’t seem realize the true situation. They demand too much and give little or none.

Nevertheless, the two parties could come up any time soon for reconciliation if one party, most likely NLD, gives the other what it wants. Only then, they can structure the working solution and implement it solely for the interests of the country. It will take time to make understand each other and trust each other.

Section 1

1.1  The Players and performances

We need to give Identities of some important players and background history would facilitate the readers to understand and grasp the situation of present Myanmar politics.

The Country: Myanmar (formerly Burma). She received Independence from British Colonial Government 0n 4 January 1948. First and last elected prime minister U Nu government ruled the country until 1962. The country plunged into civil war since end of March 1948 and still fighting continues today. Dictator General Ne Win staged a coup’ de’tat in March 1962 and his rule lasted until 1988. From 1988 September, the present military regime rules the country by decrees. Myanmar is almost 1.8 times bigger than Japan, and endowed with fairly rich natural resources.

Senior General Than Shwe: Who inherited the Chairmanship of the State Law and Restoration Council (SLORC) that turned in 1997 to State Peace and Developing Council (SPDC) from late Sr. General Saw Maung since 1993. I will use indivisibly as SPDC in this paper for clarity.

Ex. Prime minister Khin Nyunt: He headed most feared ‘Military Intelligence’ and a trusted General by former Dictator Ne Win. Sr. General Than Shwe purged him in 2004.

Late Prime minister General Soe Win: He was a hardliner, loyalist, and outspoken person against Aung San Suu Kyi (hereafter, Suu)’s legitimacy and integrity.

Present Prime minister General Thein Sein: A loyalist.

Aung San Suu Kyi: A daughter of National Hero Aung San who was assassinated in 1947, and accidental politician, won several awards including Nobel Peace Prize, Sakharov Prize, Rafto Prize, all together more than 70 now. She was very challenging, too. Known as sole leader of oppositions. She is General Secretary of the National League for Democracy Party (hereafter, NLD). Most of her lieutenants are ex. Soldiers, leftists, and professionals.

1. 2 Myanmarese Army

Myanmarese Army is highly politically oriented army since its formation in 1941 December 26. All the members were politicians turned soldiers and the tradition of political training or officer corps and other ranks are still kept alive. Traditionally people based, but after 1988 uprising, a visible distrust between the two became pronounced.

The military regime embodies absolute totalitarianism and would not tolerate challenges. Since former military leader General Ne Win’s reign, it has shown clearly that every challenge would be met with violence response. The regime ruled the country by fear and coercion. After his 26 years reign, the present regime has inherited all the legacy or even harder line of annihilation against the oppositions. The regime knows no compromise until now.

What is believed to be Bogyoke Aung San’s blue Print for Burma written on washi paper in 1941 in Japan, in which he outlined as, “ In the conception of the Burmese people, everything goes well if the head leads correctly but everything goes wrong if the head misleads or is unable to lead. . . . What we want is a strong state administration as exemplified in Germany and Italy. There shall be only one nation, one state, one party, one leader. There shall be no parliamentary [sic] opposition, no nonsense of individualism” (Silverstein,Ed. 1993: 20)

Later in his life, Aung San promoted democratic ideals. He had chosen democracy and socialism as only vehicles for the betterment of the society. Late General Ne Win tried to build a socialist state, but because of his ‘closed-door’ policy and bad administration m gus effort failed completely. The present military regime adopted what was most suitable to justify its ego-centered performances.

The regime has insisted that to maintain the union intact is its foremost task at any price after the chaotic condition of 1988 uprising. The army has fought British troops, fascist Japanese army; defended the country from communist, ethnic insurgency, and Nationalist Chinese invading army in the past.

The regime consistently accused the Communist Party (Burma) (hereafter CPB) creating this uprising to destabilize the BSPP government. The BCP operative code name is 4828, taken from the communist rebellion on March 28, 1948 (48). The regime unearthed and apprehended all the underground leaders and more than 200 agents one after another since July 1989. Aung Zaw has reported in his article ‘Secret of Commune 4828’ as “Twenty years later, many opposition sources admitted there was some truth in what Kin Nyunt (Military Intelligent Chief and Secretary One of the regime) has said,” (Zaw 2008: 31), but he rightly surmised that though communist might have played a role, but the event was a genuinely all-inclusive event –the will of the people of Myanmar demanding for a change” [ibid] CPB has traditionally always organized underground cells among university students. Myanmar military intelligent is very effective and excel in its arts.

Callahan has noted that contrast to the Philippine Army’s torture squads, Burmese soldiers did not spend most of their time killing their own fellow citizens who looked like themselves, spoke the same language, and came from the same circles (Callahan 2003: 223)

The leaders of the army know that the majority of the peoples’ psyche of no-wish-to-interfere in government matters and they exploit it.

1. 3 Aung San Suu Kyi’s Image

Suu had lived in democratic societies like India, England and the United States for 28 years since she was 15 years old and outside her native country. Her childhood was brought up in Myanmar apparently in democratic rule under parliamentary U Nu government. So, she has never experienced authoritarian rules in her life.

Traditional Myanmar society is far different from those countries in terms of tradition and culture. Myanmar is a backward country since 1962 when late General Ne Win toppled the parliamentary government and replaced by one party and dictatorial rule for next 26 years. She was already out of the country by 1960 and still so young to discern deeply about the politics of Myanmar.

The regime sometimes accused her as a communist and on other occasion, the regime as an axe-handle of the neo-colonialists. If she is not the daughter of Aung San, she could not only reach this level, but also hard to survive this long. Myanmar has been a paternalistic country.

Kathy Scot-clark and Andrian Levy have written an article about Aung San Suu Kyi in The Guardian in last November in which they said, “ Suu Kyi has always advocated non-violent resistance, but is internationally renowned for her recalcitrance rather than her compliance” (Guardian 2008)  accessed on 27 Dec. ’08).

Suu made a pledge in very early stage. The pledge came after her mother’s funeral.

Aung San Suu Kyi‘s Pledge

” If the generals have the Karma

to rule and make a prosperous nation,

may they be successful beyond limit.

” If I were to have that Karma

to undertake the nation building

for the interest of religion,

language, and race, may I outdo them.”

(litral translation from Myanmar by Nyunt Shwe)

 Suu’s pledge suggests that either you or I to govern the country, but not ‘We’. It was a pledge made and pamphlets were distributed on the day ritual ceremony held for her deceased mother in early January 1989. That means, Suu’s mind was already set to exclude the military as a partner. However, she has later said there is no permanent friendship or permanent enemy in politics and her readiness to share the power, but with her own term.

After meeting with Suu, Madeleine Albright has pour the fuel by saying that oxen still rule Burma and unless its leaders go down the path of democracy, they will be isolated and finally ruin themselves and the country (Madeleine 2003: 201, 200). Suu has repeated Madeline’s words a day after she was released from house arrest on 11 June 1996. She asked the regime to choose either dialogue or utter devastation (Suu1997: 361). Suu has admitted that her greatest weakness is having a short temper and tend to get angry quickly (ibid.: 36).


“In five ways a child should minister to his parents as the eastern quarter: – ‘Once supported by them I will now be their support; I will perform duties incumbent on them; I will keep up the lineage and tradition of my family; I will make myself worthy of my heritage” [Excerpt from Sigalovada Sutta, (Butt1982: 85)].

Section 2

The Problems

The main problem is how to transfer of State’s power from military to civilians. Military regime would like to get 25% of emerging Parliamentary seats without contests, but Suu and NLD insisted that was not democratic. Suu idea was Army has no role in politics, but only to safeguard country’s territory and to quell the insurgency. The Army`s opinion is it is the real defender and savior of the countries along its modern history so that it has a right to participate in the hierarchy of ruling structure.

One more crucial question is Suu’s place in the politics. The regime has repeatedly asked Suu to leave politics as she has married to a British and having two sons and their extended families all British citizens. That fact alone is not only to contradict to the new constitution, but also with the old 1947 constitution which was drawn up by a committee headed by Suu`s father, Aung San. (see appendices 1)

2. 1 Confrontations and Analysis

Less than a year in politics, the regime placed Suu under house-arrest. After intervening a Buddhist monk called Dr. Rewata who resided in England brought her freedom after six years in incarceration. The regime put her under house arrests in 1989, 2000 and 2003. She spent in confinement for more than 13 years of last twenty years in politics.

2. 2  1988 Uprising and Analysis

The human waves of several thousands demonstrators flowing Yangon downtown streets crisscrossed and bypassed in columns on August 8. The slogans were around demanding multiparty democracy and end of one party rule of Burmese Socialist Program Party and dictatorship. The first day was not well organized though participants rose several thousands. When the government troops shot in the crowds, many people died and injured. The people dispersed and regroupings found difficult. The government put curfew from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and decreed that gathering more than four is illegal. Only sporadic demonstrations of small numbers engaged with the troops in cat and mouse games. Troops shot dead some of the demonstrators.

The authority lifted the curfew on 24 August and people including many school children joined daily demonstrations. The demonstrators later formed strike committees by township wise, professional and group wises. Many civic groups like ‘Housewives Committees’, ‘Trishaw Associations’, ‘Port Laborers association’, ‘Lawyers’ Councils’ et cetera. Strike leaders set up communications with other towns and cities. It became somewhat systematic and coordinated. Many intellectual groups published several bulletins and newspapers on daily basis to diffuse news and events using ample of visual photos of deaths by gunshots and wounded persons. Brokerage, diffusion, and interaction were all in concerted work like what have had happened in Poland, Yugoslavia, and Georgia (Tilly and Tarrow 2007: 32-33/115-116). From July to September the ruling party chairman (Ne Win) and two Presidents resigned from the Socialist government up to that stage.

However, Myanmarese uprising failed. The regime wasn’t split, but decisively use lethal oppressions against the unarmed citizens. Buddhism is also different from Christian faith; Church and State is unmixable. The Christian Church in Poland, Georgia, and the Philippines helped those oppositions effectively, but main streamed Buddhist Order in Myanmar stayed quiet.

Here we find the difference between the forces without arms and with arms as evident in Sandinista Vs. Samoa case. Sandinistas were armed revolutionaries so that they could effectively replace the old regime (Tilly and Tarrow 2007: 159). In Myanmar case, the regime had its own calculation and intentionally created the chaotic environment around Yangon. So called important figures, like Aung San Suu Kyi, U Tin U, U Nu, U Aung Gyi and no one volunteered to contain those activities to rules and order. The worst cases were beheading of accused collaborators and police personals. A few of them were even burnt alive after hacking with swords and hatches. The demonstrators occupied most of the police stations in Yangon. However, the purpose was to keep the captured collaborators and suspect informers before they were executed.

Army aired and broadcasted through media that it took over the power of the State and sent troops to maintain law and order and ordered to shoot those who were believed to be rioters. The regime removed the last President of the Socialist government Dr. Maung Maung on the early evening of 18 September 1988.

No leaders of the uprising could take huge force of people and manage to control systematically and organize more coherent body that perhaps fill the vacuum of evacuated local authorities.

In the whole country millions of people had participated in defiance of BSPP regime. Half a million people attended Aung San Suu Kyi’s official debut and listened her speech on 26 August 1988. One paragraph of her speech may be true to many, but it was an insult to the soldiers. It reads, “ This national crisis could in fact be called the second struggle for national independence” (Suu Kyi 1995: 193). When the regime used force in excess and violently suppressed the uprising, it prevailed over the non-violent demonstrators and the uprising was disintegrated (Tilly and Tarrow 2007: 140).

According to the media, the regime shot down about 3,000 activists in the 1988 uprising, but it admitted only 266 persons died. The truth could be in between.

2. 3 Direct Confrontations by Aung San Suu Kyi

After forming the National League of Democracy Party (hereafter NLD), Suu has waged many confrontations with the security forces, most of them ended peacefully after all. However, she has vehemently attacked former dictator U Ne Win calling him by the name several times in all her speeches given at various places. She persuaded present military leaders to dissociate with their mentor dictator Ne Win, but to no avail. She has encouraged the file and rank soldiers not to obey unjust orders, but no one change their loyalty.

One Captain even ordered his soldiers to aim their rifles at her, but fortunately a Major interrupted the counting by shouting ‘stop’. That happened at a small town called Danubyu in Ayeyerwadi division, not much far from Yangon. (Barbara 1998: 88)

Suu led NLD has arranged a show of strength by scheming to attending the Martyrs’ Day celebration that yearly honored Suu’s father and his cabinet colleagues who were assassinate by a fellow power crazy politician U Saw on July 19, 1947. The regime responded with brutal force to deter it. After all, Suu has issued notice to the followers to stay at home and pray. However, some students contested against the regime. Many of them and onlookers were brutally beaten and sent to jails.

If Suu’s challenge ever happens on that day, the regime might shoot down many hundreds if not thousands.

The regime promoted the following areas, but Suu led forces vigorously campaigned against them.

  1. Foreign Direct Investments
  2. Correcting the name of the country as Myanmar from Burma, which was colonial legacy. It renamed some towns, streets, and public places that bear colonial names or corrupted Myanmar.
  3. Visit Myanmar Years (1996) and tourism.
  4. National Convention; NLD boycotted it and the regime expelled it.
  5. Regime asked Suu to withdraw foreign sanctions demands. She did not comply.

Suu, NLD, and their foreign Diasporas lobbyist groups worked earnestly against all that were cherished by the regime. Even Mr. John McCain, an admirer and advocate of Suu’s cause, was concern about the impact of economic sanctions on long suffering people. McCain said, “Even I, admirer though I was of Burma’s nonviolent freedom fighters and their leader, worried that sanctions would punish the people more than they would convince their rulers to relinquish power.” (McCain 2004: Pp. 160-161) Contrary to stranger, Suu did not count the people, but she always claim that only the regime has to suffer.

Suu has called for international sanctions and boycotts of trades, investments, tourism,  and even NGOs’ existence in Myanmar and so on, her tactics not only work but strengthened the regime’s resolve to resist as International Crisis Group concluded.(http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/11/burma-aung-san-suu-kyiaccessed on 27 Dec. ’08.)

Mary Callahan has observed that “the NLD too, exhibits characteristics that seem intolerance of and inimical to the development of democratic processes” (Callahan 2003: 22). She added that this phenomenon is not only confined to NLD, but almost all of the Myanmarese opposition groups, including student organizations (ibid: 22). Suu and her party were supposed to promote democracy, but in practice the intolerance of different opinions among them causes schism and ended up expelling such and such members.

Suu and her followers have been using ‘non-violence in Myanmar way’ tactics from the beginning. This non-violence Myanmar way is different from those used by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Both predecessors based their methods on religions, Hinduism and Christianity respectively. Ours is not based on religion, specifically on Buddhism or any other. There is no doctrine, but just common knowledge of not fighting back physically including using materials or objects. Gandhi’s non-violence is imbued with patience that is self-suffering and his goal is trying to transform his enemies into friends.

Oppositions’ demand is to send the military back to their barracks and frontlines where they belong. Besides, both Gandhi and King never said a word like ‘World Tribunal’ or ‘ICC’ or ‘ICT’ or ICCJ, but Myanmarese oppositions including top leaders voiced such ideas to the media or even viz. a viz. with the regime.

2. 4 Leading to Second House-Arrest

Suu and her party tried to go Pathein in a car on 23 July, 1998, but authority stopped her outside Yangon. The standoff lasted for five days and finally the authority forcefully sent Suu to her home. She repeated it less than a month later on August 12. She fore prepared for the standoff and managed to take extra food and necessary toiletry with her. The authority sent her back again.

Suu was on an organizational tour on 24 August 2000 just neighboring area of Yangon called Dala, but the authority pushed her back home and closed down her party offices. Then, she tried again to go to Mandalay on 21 September 2000 with her deputies, but the authority cancelled their coach giving some technical reason.

She has contested unsuccessfully and ended by putting her and her colleagues under house arrests two days later. It lasted for her until March 6, 2002. (http://www.dassk.com/categories.php?category_no=5 accessed on 27 December 2008).

The regime freed her on two understandings; one is not to travel outside Yangon; two is not to disfigure the regime’s profile, but to help seen look good (Razali 2007: 30). Suu did not abide, but mobilized the mass and instigated them with her sharp speeches against the regime. She went to Arakan State, Chin, and Ayeyerwady Divisions. The regime harassed her rallies and detained some of her followers. General Soe Win, who became later the prime minister, has said the regime will never let her rule the country during her trips.

2. 5 Black Friday Massacre; A Third House Arrest

This incident took place in upper Myanmar in Monywa district and near a village called Dipeyin on the evening of 30 May 2003. Suu’s speeches given at Mandalay, Mattaya, Mogoke, Saging, and Monywa had built up the negative impact on the regime. The regime-backed thugs were making many disturbances during Suu’s speeches. Then rumors spread among the citizens that the regime has secretly given training the thugs to assault Suu’s motorcades. On 30th May, Suu was late to set off her back journey and a group of thugs attacked her motorcades when the darkness fell around eight o’clock in the evening. Suu’s followers did not resist. The thugs beat them with bamboo, wood, and iron sticks and looted the accessories and money. Suu’s car drove away, but at the next small town gate, the authority arrested Suu and her deputy. The regime said only four persons dead, but NLD claimed not less than 70 persons dead and more than a hundred were jailed without trial. However, the regime did not even try to arrest the attackers.

The United States moved fast and posted severer sanctions, including financial transactions on the regime. Japan suspended all her Oversea Development Aids (ODA). Western Nations followed, too.

The world leaders were asking where about of Suu, but the regime said it took her as protected custody at a safe place. Later the place was known as notorious In-sein Prison. Then Mr. Razali intervened and Suu returned home, but as a prisoner again. First, she was furious about the crimes orchestrated by the regime and treatment of her. She asked for justice, but later she changed that she can forgive the regime for the interest of the people and ask a dialogue through Mr. Razali Ismail (Razali 2007: 30). The regime did not move.

All her confrontations were partly fueled by the U.S. government’s policy on Myanmar. John Pliger, a famous video-journalist wrote some truth about Suu’s confrontational saga as follow:

(It was western backing that emboldened Suu Kyi in adopting a confrontational stance against the military in 1990. Her attempt to wield western power against the generals, including her calls for sanctions and disinvestment, has only entrenched the military’s suspicion of her.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/13/letter-burma-suu-kyi  accessed on 27 December 2008.

The regime has removed its prime minister in 2004 who has good rapport with Mr. Razali and most diplomats. Then, the regime changed its mind and denied Mr. Razali’s several requests for visa. He resigned from his post in 2006 and Kofi Annan appointed his under secretary Mr. Ibrahim Gambari. Since then Mr. Gambari has visited Myanmar seven times. He has met both the regime’s leaders and Suu. He could do only insignificant progress. On his sixth visit, both regime top leader and Suu denied him to talk.

2. 6 September 2007 Monks Protests

Aung San never agrees meddling of the monks in politics. He was very sharp and critical about it. He said, “History has shown us that there is such a thing as priestcraft aside from religion. That is what has caused so much muddling of our affairs and not religion as religion in the ultimate analysis of it.” (Silverstein ed. 1993: 96). He said we must draw a sharp line between politics and religion and if we can remove the trash and travesties which antiquity must have doubtless imposed on this great religion (ibid: 96-97). When Suu wrote a book on her father, she described one of her father’s debating as, “Aung San rose from the floor to support the motion which had been proposed by his elder brother, that monks should not participate in politics. This was a case of conviction rather than of family solidarity” (Suu 1984: 6).

The regime has tried to remove Aung San’s influence on the masses, but it takes all the useful things of what he had said or written for its purposes. It always says that monks who do involve in politics are not real monks sanctioned by Buddhism. It sent many of those monks to jails. Some learned monk also admonished the monks not to interfere into the affairs of mundane world.

Sharp contrary to them, Suu invites and encourages the monks and nuns to participate in the struggle for the country. She has answered to this effect at an interview as follow:

Well, there are a lot of monks and nuns who have played a very courageous role in our movement for democracy. Of course, I would like to see everybody taking a much more significant role in the movement, not just monks and nuns. After all, there is nothing in democracy that any Buddhist could object to. I think that monks and nuns, like everybody else, have a duty to promote what is good and desirable. And I do think they could be more effective. In fact, they should help as far as they can. I do believe in engaged Buddhism’, to use a modern term (Clement 2007: 8).

When monks passed marching in front of her residence on 24 September, she appeared at the gate and paid homage to them. The media used those photos of the scene and air from the foreign-based Myanmar language radio stations to arouse the entire nations. People from all walks of lives joined the march and the participants drastically grew. On the 27, the monks and citizens amassed more than 200,000 according to the media. The troops came in, warned the demonstrators by bullhorns to disperse and go home. The crowd did not give in. Then the soldiers fired into the crowd. According to the United Nations, at least 32 people died, many injured, and about three thousand arrested.


“We live in an imperfect world and have to learn to accept imperfect solutions which become more acceptable as we learn to live with them and as time passes by . . .” ( Thant 1962: 100)

Section 3 – The United Nations and ASEAN’s ineffectiveness

The United Nations encouraged both parties to have a dialogue and for faster reconciliation. The Secretary-General appointed Special Rapporteur for human rights one after another. One of the two outstanding Special Rapporteurs, Professor Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro has good meetings with both sides, but could not persuade any of them to reach an agreement. He has visited many political prisoners and helped them to get medical assistance and improved treatment inside the prisons. The International Red Cross played a role to do the jobs, but later the regime denied the access to the prisoners. Later, the relationship between the regime and Professor Pinhero deteriorated and the regime denied his entry into the country. He resigned in 2007 and Mr. Tomas Ojea Quintana took his place.

Since year 2000, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed an outstanding diplomat Mr. Razali Ismail as his special envoy to facilitate the reconciliation between the regime and Suu led opposition forces. Practically, it was only Suu to represent the oppositions since she was the one who represent the landslide wining party of last election. Mr. Razali has facilitated Suu’s released from house arrest in 2000. Second Special envoy of Secretary-General of the U.N. Mr. Gambari has been trying to dislodge the stalemate of Myanmar politics, but shows insignificant signs of improvement.

ASEAN has its own constitutional limitation so that it cannot much contribute to the mediation process. Military regime is strong and knows how to play with ASEAN. No leader of ASEAN hasn’t got green light to meet Suu up to now.


 Suu’s nonviolent confrontation has failed so far up to the present to persuade the authorities in National level like Poland’s Lenin Shipyard strikers (Tilly and Tarrow 2007: 116). Although she tried to split the Army several times by urging the ranks and files not to obey unjust orders from above, it resists and stays undivided horizontally and vertically. Instead, she finds herself put under house arrests in every confrontation. She has already served more than 13 years of past 20 years.

In the eyes of traditional Nationalists and who (may) genuinely believe that they are the real persons who practically fought and defended against so many adversaries, including the British and Japanese, they have every right to be part of or even leading elements of Myanmar politics. And they see Aung San Suu Kyi’s marriage and family connection with foreign subjects simply cast her out of Myanmar politics. She has violated the Buddhist ethics, Myanmar value, and both 1947 (drafted by her father) and 2008 constitutions (see in Appendixes). Therefore, the best hope she could do for her country’s smooth transition to democracy is to quit party politics. Or compromise with the regime to allow her to remain as a backbencher of NLD and to collaborate with the regime.

Mr. Razali Ismail has met and conversed with her not less than twenty times during his tenure as United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Kofi Annan’s special envoy and according to him, Suu has changed drastically her opinion of achieving democracy for Myanmar when he met her last time in 2004. He wrote in Irrawaddy Magazine, “Suu Kyi had come a long way to realize that democracy can only be achieved through the generals, with the latter still in the driving seat. This realization of hers is in stark contrast to the imperious, principled and unbending Suu Kyi I had met over twenty meetings ago” (Razali 2007: 30).

Democratization is a long process and trial and error and to install sound democracy for a third world country and authoritarian culture like Myanmar needs a gradual change. Ideals are ideals, but in practical world, we much accept compromise and Myanmar could not change drastically, but only gradually. In this vein, what Mikael Graver has said is close to the reality. He said, “Only via a prolonged social and cultural exchange with the rest of the world, as well as shared power between the Tatmadaw (Army) and civil society, can enduring and positive changes come about (Graver 1999: 135).

  I am going to conclude this confrontation-style politics could not go well with this type of regime and suggest to change the method and secure to grab more representatives in coming election in 2010 in order to balance the military representatives and its allies in the government and parliament. This is the only way to serve the people.

If honorable exit for Suu could be arranged and if she inclines to do so, Myanmar politics would find more chances for reconciliation and economic developments.

If the U.N. would like to be effective, it must avoid to making the issue international to add up pressure on the regime. It will resist to the last dish.

The last hope is that since the regime’s rulers are Buddhists, they may realize and fear about their sins committed so far and atone them by changing to genuine reconciliation with the people. Here is how a British colonial officer observed about the faith and the people of Myanmar more than a hundred years ago.

“There is no flexibility in Buddhism. It is a law, and nothing can change it. Laws are for ever and for ever, and there are no exceptions to them. The law of the Buddha is against war – war of any kind at all – and there can be no exception. And so every Burman who fought against us knew that he was sinning” (Hall 1903: 76-77).


Appendix (1)

74. (1)Any person who –

(i) is under any acknowledgement of allegiance or adherence to a foreign Power, or is a subject or citizen or entitled to the rights and privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign Power; or

(Appendix (2)

The President and Vice-Presidents  (Page 19/20)

59. Qualifications of the President and Vice-Presidents are as follows :

(d) shall be well acquainted with the affairs of the Union such as political,

administrative, economic and military;

(f) shall he himself, one of the parents, the spouse, one of the legitimate children

or their spouses not owe allegiance to a foreign power, not be subject of a

foreign power or citizen of a foreign country. They shall not be persons

entitled to enjoy the rights and privileges of a subject of a foreign government

or citizen of a foreign country;

(g) shall possess prescribed qualifications of the President, in addition to

qualifications prescribed to stand for election to the Hluttaw.

 Disqualification for the Pyithu Hluttaw Representatives (Page 43/44)

121. The following persons shall not be entitled to be elected as the Pyithu Hluttaw

representatives :

(f) person who is entitled to enjoy the rights and privileges of a subject of a

foreign government or a citizen of a foreign country;

(g) person himself or is of a member of an organization who obtains and

utilizes directly or indirectly the support of money, land, housing, building,

vehicle, property, so forth, from government or religious organization or

other organizations of a foreign country;

(h) person himself or is of a member of an organization who abets the act of

inciting, giving speech, conversing or issuing declaration to vote or not to

vote based on religion for political purpose;

4. References

 Albright, Madeline. 2003. Madam Secretary: A Memoir. Miramax Books, Printed in the United States.

Aung San Suu Kyi. 1984. Aung San Of Burma: A Biographical Portrait by his Daughter. Kiscadale, Edinburgh.

Aung San Suu Kyi. 1995. Freedom From Fear. Penguin Books,

Callahan, Mary P.. 2003. Making Enemies: War and State Building in Burma. Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London.

Clements, Allan and Aung San Suu Kyi. 1993. Voice of Hope: Conversation with Aung San Suu Kyi. Penguin Books.

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accessed on 27 Dec. ’08).


About nyuntshwe

A Myanmar, Buddhist, pacifist, and pragmatic person who believe that we are what we think. That leads him positive thinking and he sees the world a beautiful place, but he still likes to keep trying for a better and more beautiful world.
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